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TOPIC: ISSUE208 - "The way people look, dress, and act reveals their attitudes and interests. You can tell much about a society's ideas and values by observing the appearance and behavior of its people."
WORDS: 577 TIME: 00:45:00 DATE: 2010-3-22 12:19:58
The speaker's allegation is actually threefold: (1) People's appearance, such as look, dress, and act can reveal their attitudes and interests. (2)By paying attention to the appearance and behavior of people in a society, one can comprehend its ideas and values. (3)And obviously, the author assumes that one person's attitude and interest will serve as a mirror of the whole society's ideas and values, upon which the causal relationship of the two above rest.
First of all, it might be appealing to agree with the author that the appearance and behavior of people might be a significant index of their own attitudes and interests. However, when it comes to the clothes in formal occasions, especially in offices, armies, ceremonies and the like, perhaps it is not the case at all. For those people are obliged to wear identical clothes to comply with the regulations, which absolutely cover their own interests and characteristics. This example may imply some information such as unity and efficiency stemming from the corporate culture, and yet, they cannot be on behalf of the holistic society.
Lucky enough, people have the right and freedom to dress what they like in informal occasions such as travelling, shopping, at home, etc. Under such circumstances, one's preference and attitude can be precisely reflected by what he/she dress and behave. For example, pop singers, such as Lady Gaga, may dress bizarre clothes, dye her hair in shining colors and behave entirely unlike the majority. Additionally, for mass populace, it is fairly clear that their clothes will undoubtedly symbolize their temperament and interests. In light of different behaviors and clothes varying according to color, styling, material, price and the like, both of these examples can reveal those people's own characteristics and tastes in clothes as well.
Further, to fully appreciate the issue, the premise made by the author should be examined as followed: whether the individual interests and attitudes can be representative of the ideas and values of whole society? Apart from those unique ones above, perhaps the majority are more inclined to abide by the social conformity to acquire a sense of security. Therein lies an interesting law that appearance and behavior of people might be viewed as indications of spiritual dimension of society, which hinges on time periods and places.
Firstly, there are a great deal of examples as to that the appearance of people may embody the societal values and thoughts. To elaborate, the ancient Chinese-style dress serves as a symbol of aristocratic identity of women by manifesting their dignity and grace. And yet, in current times, it has been phased out gradually and now mostly appears in formal occasions to accentuate the aroma of graveness and decency. On the contrary, in these days, females dress in a way to be attractive and exceptional by emphasizing their own individualities with the guidance of fashion magazines disseminating diverse brand-new ideas of clothes matching, which means an open attitude and tolerance toward different individuals. Additionally, compared Beijing with Paris, the stylish city, one can realize that how dresses differ from one country to another.
Secondly, one can also infer the values and ideas from the behavior of people in one society. The fledging behaviorists using their own bodies as the media of art, keeping stationary all day in a strange pose in order to attract people's attention, may be regarded as wrong behaviors and rightly condemned for their defiance of the social norms. Another instance is the funny body language in different countries and religions, in China touching the head of a child is regarded as affectionate behavior, while in America, it is probably an offense to the child.
However, despite the merits stated above, the second claim may not hold water based on the following reason. As is generally appreciated, the ideas and values may be deep underlying in the traditional culture and social conventions and cannot be perceived at the first glance. Therefore, the appearance and behavior only represent the tip of the iceberg, and hence could not be overrated when evaluating a society's value and ideas.
Overall, to fully understand the ideas and values of a society, the outside performance of people might not be the solely ingredient. Other alternative ways such as study the customs and traditional religion and so forth would be more important.